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New NFB Instagram project What Brings Us Here features stories behind Indigenous-led community action in Winnipeg


What Bring Us Here

October 26, 2016 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) explores the storytelling potential of Instagram with What Brings Us Here, a companion piece to the award-winning short documentary film this river.

Created by author and filmmaker Katherena Vermette and NFB producer Alicia Smith, What Brings Us Here profiles volunteers of Drag the Red and the Bear Clan Patrol, grassroots MMIWG and MMIP movements in Winnipeg. These dedicated individuals patrol neighbourhoods and search the banks and water of the Red River in response to the problem of missing people in their community.

An experiment in social medial storytelling from the NFB’s North West Studio, What Brings Us Here combines photographs and statements by the volunteers, bringing together many voices and experiences to answer a central question: “What brings you here to do this work?” It’s a compelling community portrait marked by strength, resilience, grace and generosity, beautifully documented by Winnipeg photographers Karen Asher, Mark Reimer and Janine Kropla.

This unfolding photo-essay project will continue over two months, ending late November 2016. During that time, more than 80 images and stories will be posted.

Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction and children’s literature who lives in Winnipeg. Her new novel, The Break, is a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a finalist for the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award. Her first book, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Katherena co-directed the 2016 NFB short documentary this river with Erika MacPherson. The film recently received the Coup de coeur du jury award at the Festival Présence autochtone/Montréal First Peoples Festival.

Alicia Smith is a producer for the NFB in Winnipeg, where she works with filmmakers and artists to create documentary, animation and interactive audiovisual works. Her recent credits include producing this river as well as co-writing and producing Nowhere Land (2015) with Igloolik-based filmmaker Bonnie Ammaaq, which won Best Short Documentary at Toronto’s imagineNATIVE festival. Alicia’s interactive credits include such projects as God’s Lake Narrows (2011) and Seven Digital Deadly Sins, both Webby Award winners.

What Brings Us Here and this river are executive-produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio.


Associated Links

Instagram – What Bring Us Here

NFB’s North West Studio

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.